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The Ford Edge ST adds excitement to a very capable vehicle, but the price puts it perilously close to premium SUV alternatives.

When a vehicle is given an aspirational name, potential buyers rightly expect the product to deliver an experience that is in keeping with the label.

Edge is a good name for an SUV. It’s hip. It’s got a bit of an attitude. It’s as cool as your son’s girlfriend, tats and all.

Except, well, the label has somewhat overreached the reality of the Ford Edge since it debuted way back in 2006. It is modern-looking, for sure, and a competent and reasonably refined mid-sized crossover SUV. What it failed to do is set hearts on fire.

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As Ford’s product people contemplated a mid-cycle update of this popular Oakville, Ont.-built vehicle, they had an epiphany – the Edge was missing two important letters: ST.

The letters ST stand for Sport Technology and denote high-performance Ford vehicles hopped up with stiff suspension, gobs of horsepower, big brakes and sassy looks that get you noticed on the street. The 2019 Edge is the first Ford SUV to wear the ST badge.

“We saw there was a wide space in the medium segment for a high-performance package,” said Gonzalo Contreras, product marketing manager of SUV/CUV at Ford Canada. So, it was an obvious move for the update.

Equally obvious, perhaps, was the addition of the Co-Pilot 360 suite of safety features. Ford has equipped all five trim levels of the Edge with the package, which includes pre-collision assist (automatic emergency braking), BLIS (blind spot information system), lane-keeping assist, review camera and auto high-beam headlamps. “We want to make people’s lives as easy as possible,” Contreras said.

The Edge’s looks have been updated with a black honeycomb grille and reworked front and rear lights. Although change was due, the effect is at best not unattractive – which is to say, not entirely attractive. The ST, on the other hand, looks quite handsome with its blacked-out, 20-inch alloy wheels (21-inch is also available) and low-profile P-Zero Pirelli high-performance tires. Matched to a black paint job and bright red brake calipers, it’s a stunner.

The interior is quietly refined, with matte black surfaces and virtually no distracting chrome. The shifter is – sigh – now a rotary knob. Ford says eliminating the traditional shift lever frees up cabin space, which I guess is a justification. The only real quibble with the interior, however, is a display screen which tilts just enough forward to catch glare from the windshield.

The Edge's new look is at best not unattractive – which is to say, not entirely attractive.

In standard (or eco) mode, the ST is bit of a bore. Switching into sport mode, however, brings out its Mr. Hyde. A tour through some hilly roads outside Park City, Utah, let the hefty two-tonne rig show off its brawny turbo V-6, which uses 336 horsepower and 380 pound-feet of torque to bolt past pickups and RVs en route to the soccer pitch. The turbo is “twin scroll,” a technology that reduces the time it takes for the turbo to get boosting. In other words, when you hit the gas, things happen a lot faster.

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Switching into sport mode sharpens throttle response, shows a tachometer on the dash, and pipes an engine growl into the cabin – unfortunately, it’s a kind of faux, sound-engineered noise. In sport mode, the eight-speed automatic keeps the engine revs in optimum power range. Would-be F1 drivers can also resort to the manual paddle-shifters.

The basic Edge in Canada managed the power nicely, keeping the rig pointed where you want it even under hard acceleration. AWD also now automatically switches to 2WD to save fuel.

The big engine is only available in the ST. The rest of us have to settle for a perky four-cylinder 2.0-litre EcoBoost engine, even in the upscale Titanium trim level. Its 250 horsepower is capable enough but, man, that engine sounds like it’s working hard. It’s happier when its revs settle down on highway cruises.

Contreras said the Edge is very important for Ford, which hopes the addition of ST excitement can help it hold market share. Ford sells about 20,000 units a year in Canada, slightly more than the bigger Explorer but about half as many as the compact Escape.

Buyers will have to get their heads around pricing, which can generously be described as immodest. The bestselling SEL lists at $39,999 in AWD; the ST starts at $49,099, but can reach nearly $60,000 fully optioned out. In that price category, a lot of high-end alternatives open up.

For would-be buyers, the big question is whether this Edge is edgy enough.

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Tech specs

The 2019 Edge is the first Ford SUV to wear the ST badge.

Uli Heckmann

Base price/as tested: Titanium AWD $43,399, ST (AWD) $49,099

Engines: Edge (most trim levels) 2.0-litre four-cylinder EcoBoost; Edge ST: 2.7-litre twin turbo V-6 EcoBoost

Transmission/drive: Eight-speed automatic, FWD only offered on base model; all others have AWD

Fuel economy (litres/100km): FWD: 10.9 L/100km city, 8.0 L/100km highway; AWD 11.4 L/100km city, 8.3 L/100km highway; Edge ST 12.6 L/100km city/9.2 L/100km highway

Alternatives: Nissan Murano, Jeep Grand Cherokee, BMW X3, Audi Q5, Kia Sorento, Hyundai Santa Fe, VW Tiguan, GMC Terrain

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Looks

The wide grille, reshaped hood and slim LED lights actually make the vehicle look a little less distinctive than its predecessor.

Interior

The interior is quietly refined, with matte black surfaces and virtually no distracting chrome.

Muted flat blacks convey a sense of quiet. The dash is simple and clean and makes it easy to get oriented. Rear legroom is generous. The optional cooled seats are a treat on even moderately warm days.

Performance

The basic 2.0-litre EcoBoost engine does a competent job and the ST’s twin-scroll turbo V-6 is robust. Sport mode keeps the revs up enough to minimize the slight turbo lag, putting this SUV into a class of its own.

Technology

As with many of its competitors, Ford offers a broad suite of safety and convenience features, such as adaptive cruise control, backup camera and evasive steering assist. The optional FordPass Connect also provides a 4G LTE WiFi hotspot. The FordPass app also lets you use a smartphone to start, lock, unlock and locate the vehicle.

Cargo

As with most mid-sized SUVs, there’s room for a few bags in the back. But if you are luggage-heavy, the Explorer gives you more room.

Verdict: 7.5

The addition of the sport ST adds excitement to a mid-cycle refresh of this very capable vehicle. Paying for the best, however, puts the Edge perilously close to some pretty hot premium SUV alternatives.

The writer was a guest of the automaker. Content was not subject to approval.

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